The Transition At Linebacker

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The Giants drafted me with the mindset of fitting me in the 4-3. I’m not going to lie, it was different coming in. It’s a lot more fluidity as far as movement. At UVa, I was often on the line of scrimmage for the majority of the time and had to take the slot every now and then, but I had designated rules as part of the learning experience. I was an outside linebacker and played both sides of the 3-4. Both sides are kind of interchangeable. Here in New York, as opposed to an outside linebacker coming from the 3-4, now you’re off the ball and you have to read and react, which is something that didn’t come naturally to me.

You have to see a lot more. That actually makes playing linebacker harder. You’re back off the ball, you have to read the guard, the center, the fullback, and the running back to get your read to figure out where you’re supposed to go. That’s versus college where all I had to do was look at the tight end – if the tight end blocks out, I knew it was run and if he went out for a pass, then I’m going out. There was much more simplicity as far as my position and vision. Now, that’s where film study comes in a lot more because you can pick up a lot more tendencies now that you’re off the ball. You have the opportunity to see the whole field vs. a small section of the field.

It’s different. It really is different. I think it is harder for a linebacker to play the 3-4 than it is for a linebacker to play the 4-3 just because it’s more of a physical game I feel like. As a 4-3 linebacker, and by no means am I saying it’s always like this, but there are some plays where you may not even have to touch somebody and you can make the tackle. You may not have to take on a block, you may not have to hit a fullback, and you can make the tackle just by reading and reacting, by running to make the play. It’s not likely in the 3-4 that’s going to happen just because there’s a massive amount of space between the defensive end and the nose tackle where these guards can climb you so fast and you have to engage these guards.

If you think about it like this, if you choose not to engage or try to avoid them, now that hole is that much wider because you were sitting in that big crease. If it was a 4-3, you’ve got a defensive tackle in two of